Swimming Wellington Goes Into Hiding

I have not written about this subject for several weeks. The reason is because I don’t really know the facts about events that are rumoured to have rocked Swimming Wellington. But here is what I have been told.

I began writing about the unconstitutional composition of the Wellington Board some time ago. As is usual, at Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) and Swimming Wellington, no one listened. Whether Swimwatch complaints have been about the centralised training program, or an unconstitutional Wellington Board, or the transparent faults in the appointment of Gary Francis, SNZ bigots ignore our alarm. As we know, in the case of the centralised training program, eventually SNZ had to acknowledge their error. In the meantime millions of dollars were wasted and dozens of swimming careers were lost.

It now seems as if SNZ ignorance has produced a second tale of refusing to acknowledge a problem until it is too late, until the damage done is close to terminal. The first Swimwatch reference to problems with the composition of the Swimming Wellington Board was on 14 March 2018. More recently Swimwatch posted a story about the chaos in Swimming Wellington on 9 August 2018. The link to this story is here.


The problem in Wellington is fairly simple. Here is how it was described in the “Tangled Web” story.

Swimming Wellington merged with Wairarapa Swimming five years ago in July 2013. One result of the merger was an increase of one in the number of Swimming Wellington Board members; from six to seven. This was perfectly legal. Today I see that the Swimming Wellington Board still has seven members.

That is seven names which was fine for the period 2013 to 2016. But after 2016 the Constitution requires that the Board return to a maximum of six members. I thought how come Swimming Wellington has operated in breach of its Constitution for two years?

I decided to investigate. Much of what I found is shrouded in secrecy. Certain facts are difficult to find. However it appears that at some time in the past two years someone from Swimming Wellington, probably the President, contacted Swimming New Zealand and asked for permission to allow the Region to have seven Board members. I don’t know the content of their reply. However Swimming New Zealand must have approved because the extra Board member is still there.

If that is what happened, it is a disgrace. No one can trust a Board that ignores the organization’s Constitution. And as for Swimming New Zealand giving their approval; that is just as bad. Effectively a backroom, deal probably between Christian Renford or Steve Johns and Mark Berge, changed the Wellington Constitution. Swimming Wellington’s Constitution told them both what any change to the Constitution involves. First and foremost it requires the consent of the membership. Wellington never got that.

Blabber-mouth Dave Crampton then sprayed me with emails on the subject. Here is a summarised version of some of the things he said.

I spoke with Mark Berge today and he has told me he agrees that his Swimming Wellington board is not meeting in accordance with its constitution as it has more board members than its constitution provides for – and this increase in board members over its rules was approved in a letter from Swimming NZ. such changes have to go through the membership, NOT Swimming NZ more later.  MUCH more later.

have a look at the swim welli constitution. Have a look at the number of board members on the board meeting minutes and compare that with the rules. Ask Swimming NZ why there is a discrepancy ( hint: they know why)

Crampton also told me that a lawyer friend of his, called Eugene Collins, was looking into the legality of the Wellington Board. And then last week a deeply suspicious story began to circulate. I repeat that I have no proof about how much is true but this is the poolside gossip.

A Queen’s Council got involved. He or she warned Swimming Wellington and SNZ that operating with an unconstitutional Board came with many dangers. They didn’t need a Queen’s Council to tell them that. They should have known it themselves and, if they didn’t, they had already been told by Swimwatch.

I understand the Queen’s Council may have warned Wellington about their insurance being invalid and their management decisions being null and void. The heat in the kitchen had definitely risen. If what I’m told happened next is true, then the Wellington Chairman, Mark Berge, and his mates on the Wellington Board clearly do not like a hot kitchen.

Because the rumour is that five Board members, including Berge, have thrown in the towel and fled the unconstitutional ship. That means two things. First, with two Board members left Swimming Wellington is still unconstitutional and second, SNZ has been left to sort out the mess.

But the sorting out should have been done months ago. SNZ were warned and did nothing. The SNZ Board and management are as guilty as the Swimming Wellington Board members who have resigned. Honest members of the SNZ Board should exercise the same option.

But what is of serious concern is the secrecy. If half of all this stuff is true, why haven’t we been told? If one of SNZ’s biggest regions is in a shambles, the membership have a right to know. But nothing is on the Swimming Wellington website or Facebook page. Nothing is on the SNZ website or Facebook page. As usual Cotterill’s style of mushroom management is on full display – keep them in the dark and feed them manure.

Finally, I would also like to know why, now that SNZ has been forced to do something about an unconstitutional Wellington, why is SNZ doing nothing about an equally unconstitutional Auckland region? In Auckland the Board has five members, one less than the constitutionally required six members. Over or under, both are unconstitutional. I guess in the case of Auckland we will again have to wait for a Queen’s Council to threaten Auckland’s insurance and their management decisions before SNZ get off their behinds and earn the inflated amounts we pay them.

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